All Blacks squad named for end of year tour
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Five uncapped players have been included in a 36-man New Zealand rugby squad to play test matches next month against Japan, France, England and Ireland.
Prop Joe Moody, lock Dominic Bird and backrower Luke Whitelock, all from the Christchurch-based Crusaders, were named on Sunday among 20 forwards in the touring squad, with scrumhalf T.J. Perenara and winger Frank Halai included among 16 backs.
Bird and Perenara have both previously been named in All Blacks squads but were prevented by injuries from making test debuts. The 22-year-old Bird was selected for New Zealand’s series against France in June but was forced out by a ruptured pectoral muscle.
Perenara was named in the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad this season but withdrew after suffering a stress fracture in his foot.
Halai was a member of New Zealand’s larger training squad at the start of the current season and has been named in an official touring squad for the first time.
The 25-year-old Moody is a relative novice, having started his Super Rugby career with the Crusaders this season. A Junior Commonwealth Games wrestling bronze medalist, Moody was added to New Zealand squads for the French series and the Rugby Championships as cover for the injured Wyatt Crockett but has yet to play an international match.
Luke Whitelock is the brother of lock Sam Whitelock, a veteran of 48 tests for the All Blacks, and is one of four Whitelock brothers to play for the Crusaders.
Lock Luke Romano has been named in the touring squad although he has recently been sidelined with a groin injury while winger Cory Jane, who missed Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup test against Australia with a hamstring injury, has also been named. Saturday’s match at Dunedin would have been Jane’s first since New Zealand’s loss to England in December. He ruptured knee ligaments during a training match in January and was due to make his All Blacks comeback against Australia before being injured in training.
Crusaders center Ryan Crotty, who made his test debut against Australia in August but hasn’t added to that one appearance, is also included in the touring squad. Flanker Matt Todd was the only player not considered because of injury.
The New Zealand team will be led by 120-test veteran Richie McCaw who also missed Saturday’s test with injury and who will be making his 10th tour to Europe.
New Zealand will play Japan at Tokyo on Nov.2, France at Paris on Nov. 10, England at Twickenham on Nov. 17 and Ireland in Dublin on Nov. 25.
“The aim of the tour is to further develop our game structures, our skill sets and our individual players,” head coach Steve Hansen said. “We will be looking to use the tour to take ourselves beyond where we are at the moment.”
New Zealand squad: Forwards; Dane Coles, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Tony Woodcock, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Jeremy Thrush, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Luke Whitelock. Backs; Tawera Kerr-Barlow, T.J. Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty, Ma’a Nonu, Francis Saili, Israel Dagg, Frank Halai, Cory Jane, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith.